Sweet Harmony Farm

  (Deerfield, New Hampshire)
Simple joys of the alpaca life ...........
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Hay Bale Feeder

One of the many fun things with having a farm is that you get to utilize those hobbies of yours.  For Dan, my very crafty husband, he gets to use all of his woodworking tools and skills.  He just made this beautiful hay feeder for the alpacas which holds an entire bale of hay!  The feeder sits along the ground so the alpacas are able to eat their hay as they naturally do, right at ground level.  No one is pulling hay out overhead, so no hay will fall into beautiful alpaca topknots belonging to the shorter creatures, i.e. Arlo.  The top frame is made up of smooth wooden dowels so no alpaca noses will be injured.  The frame rests on the bale and drops down with the bale as the alpacas eat.  The doweled frame keeps the hay in the feeder; otherwise my fleeced friends would at times be able to pull out a large section of a flake and race around the barn.  Don’t laugh ~ sometimes as I’m carrying a couple flakes of hay the boys will come up and eat from the flake, and yes they’ve taken it away and ran!  Silly, silly alpacas, they’re always finding a way to make us laugh.

hay bale feeder

Of course introducing the new feeder is a different story.  Alpacas are very curious creatures, and rather cautious about anything new.  To their horror, we wheeled away their bright yellow wheelbarrow.  They eyed us intently.  And then we walked in the new feeder.  They eyed us intently still, but no one moved.  Even after we ceremoniously brought over an entire bale of hay and plunked it in, no one moved.  I pulled up some hay through the dowels to entice them.  Nothing.  We stepped back towards the tack room, and waited.  We watched and waited while they stretched their necks, sniffing loudly, and we watched and waited some more.  Finally, a brave alpaca soul approached.  And who was the first alpaca, the bravest alpaca, to try it out?  Guinness of course!

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Used to live in NH myself, Candia. I was curious about your article and hoped I might see some more of the process of making the hay feeder. We used to have horses and my father built a lot of hay feeders. Very different from yours. I'm wondering how the alpacas will get to the hay once it gets past the length of their nose, or is it more shallow than it looks? Anyway, happy alpaca raising. They're great animals.

Posted by Brenda on July 27, 2010 at 03:58 PM EDT #

Hi Brenda! Yes indeedy, the alpacas are great animals...The hay feeder itself is just a bit bigger than an average hay bale, so it's only about 21 inches +/- tall. The alpacas are much taller so their noses can reach all the way to the bottom. The top piece with the dowels fits inside the box and sits on top of the bale and as the alpacas eat the hay and the bale goes down, so does that top piece. They have no trouble eating from it, even the little ones. If you scroll through some other pictures, like on shearing day, you can see the feeder only half full. That might give you a better idea. This type of feeder is useful so that they don't pull out too much hay at once and less hay gets wasted. Thanks for your question! ~ Mona

Posted by Mona on July 27, 2010 at 08:12 PM EDT #

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